By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
As the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, confirms outbreak of Yellow fever in Ebonyi state, Nigerians have been advised to prevent mosquito bites as well as get vaccinated against the disease.
As at last count, no fewer than 20 deaths have been recorded in Izzi LGA, Ebonyi State, according to the NCDC, indicating that the outbreak may have been going on for a few months undetected by local health authorities.
Yellow fever is a serious disease caused by the yellow fever virus. It is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito species. Although, there is no human-to-human transmission of the virus, however, the disease is completely vaccine-preventable with a single shot providing immunity for a lifetime. Sadly, many people are not vaccinated against the killer disease.
According to the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, there is need for Nigerians to keep their environments clean and free of stagnant water to discourage the breeding of mosquitoes.
He further counselled that the public should also make use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquito bites.
Continuing, he advised Nigerians to also get vaccinated at the Primary Healthcare Centres, PHCs, for free.
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“Yellow fever vaccine is available for free in Primary Healthcare Centres in Nigeria as part of the routine immunisation schedule. Every child is protected for life if vaccinated and encouraged every family to ensure that children receive all their childhood vaccines.
According to the WHO, as at 31 December 2018, 1.47 million Nigerians had been vaccinated with the Yellow fever vaccine.
“It is important to avoid self-medication: visit a health facility immediately if you feel ill. Healthcare workers are reminded that the symptoms of Yellow fever include yellowness of the eyes, sudden fever, headache and body pain. If you have these symptoms or notice someone in your community displaying them, please contact your nearest health centre.”
Giving insight into the confirmed cases in Ebonyi in a press statement, he said already a Rapid Response Team had been set up to support the Ebonyi State’s response since the 30th of July 2019, in partnership with the World Health Organization, WHO. Ihekweazu said the Ebonyi State Epidemiology Team is leading the response with support from the NCDC, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, and the World Health Organisation, WHO.
He disclosed that a multi-agency Yellow fever technical working group coordinated by NCDC, has been leading the investigation and response to Yellow fever cases.
As at 31st of July 2019, 78 cases have been laboratory confirmed in Nigeria in 2019 alone.
Members of the public are enjoined to contact the Agency through any of the following links: NCDC Toll-free Number: 0800-970000-10; SMS: 08099555577; WhatsApp: 07087110839; Twitter/Facebook: @NCDCgov
Get vaccinated as the vaccine can prevent yellow fever. After getting the vaccine, you should be given a stamped and signed “International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis” (yellow card).
This certificate becomes valid 10 days after vaccination and is good for 10 years. Another way to prevent yellow fever is to avoid mosquito bites by staying in well-screened or air-conditioned areas, wearing clothes that cover most of your body, using an effective insect repellent, such as those containing DEET.